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All About Mammals Yaks

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Yaks are large, long-haired, horned mammals that live in mountainous Tibet. These sure-footed cattle were domesticated hundreds of years ago by people in Asia. Yaks can climb up to 20,000 feet (6,100 m) above sea level.

Behavior: Female yaks and their young calves travel in herds of hundreds of animals. The herd protects the young from predators, like wolves.

Anatomy: The yak measures from 3 to 6 feet (0.9 to1.8 m) tall at the shoulder and weighs from 400 to 1,800 pounds (180 to 820 kg). Males are larger than females. Both males and females have horns. Yaks have a massive, low-slung body, a huge hump on their shoulders, and hoofed feet. Yaks have very long fur, and during the winter, they also grow a short, thick fur undercoat which insulates them from the cold. They have a life span of about 20 years in captivity.

Diet: Yaks are herbivores (plant-eaters) that graze on grasses, but also browse on the leaves of low-lying shrubs and herbs. Like cows (which they are related to), they swallow their food without chewing it. Later, they regurgitate the food (called a cud) and chew it. Yaks, like other ruminants, have a four-part stomach.

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